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Ringlock vs. thumbstack? What's the difference?
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By Nick Stayner
From Billings, MT
Nov 1, 2012
Nick Stayner near the crux. Ryan Minton photo.
Hey, disclaimer: this is sort of a stupid. The other day I was told the jam I use in bigger .5-.75s (a la Slice and Dice or the crux of Rock Lobster) is a thumbstack. I've always called it a ringlock. Are they the same thing? What exactly is the difference?

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By Brian Scoggins
From Eugene, OR
Nov 1, 2012
Generally, a thumbstack is when you just barely get your thumb under your index finger. A ringlock is when it ends up under both index and middle fingers, at or about the finger tip.

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By slim
Administrator
Nov 1, 2012
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
i've always thought of them in the opposite - a ringlock being when it is too tight to really get your thumb under your index, and a thumbstack when you get a decent amount of your index (and/or middle and sometims ring finger) under your thumb.

ie, i would say ringlocks are a smaller size than thumbstacks.

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By JCM
From Seattle, WA
Nov 1, 2012
Nick Stayner wrote:
Hey, disclaimer: this is sort of a stupid. The other day I was told the jam I use in bigger .5-.75s (a la Slice and Dice or the crux of Rock Lobster) is a thumbstack. I've always called it a ringlock. Are they the same thing? What exactly is the difference?


The defnitions seem not to be perfectly universalized. However, based on the sizes of the routes in question, I would say that that person was using this definition.

In a ringlock, the joint of your thumb is bent.

In a thunbstack, the joint is straight, creating a bridge across a slightly wider crack than for a ringlock.

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By bearbreeder
Nov 1, 2012
as long as you can climb it dont worry about it ;)

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By Lou Hibbard
From Eagan, MN
Nov 1, 2012
I researched that same question myself last weekend.
I came to the conclusion the ring -lock is maybe a little overhyped or perhaps hand size dependent and some people almost use the terms interchangeably.
Otherwise the general opinion seemed to be the same as slim except the thumb goes UNDER the fingers for a thumbstack camming the thumb against the crack edge for a thumbstack.
The Long/Luebben Advanced Rock Climbing covers crack climbing very thoroughly and doesn't mention the ring-lock at all I am pretty sure.

I'm not an expert but I've never used a ring lock or thumbstack (cam). My knuckles are so big from lots of finger cracks I just finger stack. My thumb isn't doing much. I know I'll have to start using my thumb more at Indian Creek as I start to go there more. I've done hundreds of routes at Jtree and Yosemite and that's been my experience. I just finger stack.

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By Paul Irby
From moab, ut
Nov 1, 2012
chocolate drops and the land of standing rocks
I don't know the difference either. i figure you just cram some flesh and bone in there and squeeze.

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By Lou Hibbard
From Eagan, MN
Nov 1, 2012
One other point - as I worked my way up through the grades in crack climbing for me it really helped to think about the technique and know when to squeeze, torque, etc. I think technique makes a huge difference in crack climbing and it helps to study the various techniques. Especially in offwidths.

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By slim
Administrator
Nov 1, 2012
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
my blue-collar breakdown is that if my thumbnail is gouging the hell out of my index finger, it is a ringlock. if not, then a thumbstack. i hate ringlocks, i like thumbstacks.

an odd observation - my left hand is better at thumbstacking, but my right hand is better at ringlocking. i have no idea why....

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By Keenan Waeschle
From Bozeman, MT
Nov 1, 2012
on top of the RNWF <br />June 2012
er-mah-gerd!

this might be the most pointless discussion ever.

But just to make sure I get my two cents in I better chirp up: I'm going to replace my hands with .75's and never have to worry about this differentiation again.

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By Nick Stayner
From Billings, MT
Nov 1, 2012
Nick Stayner near the crux. Ryan Minton photo.
slim wrote:
my blue-collar breakdown is that if my thumbnail is gouging the hell out of my index finger, it is a ringlock. if not, then a thumbstack. i hate ringlocks, i like thumbstacks. an odd observation - my left hand is better at thumbstacking, but my right hand is better at ringlocking. i have no idea why....


Yeah, makes sense. I guess I never differentiated between the two, figuring that my "ringlock" is just an attempt to thumbstack as best I could. It's also funny how the skin erodes from your thumb after doing a bunch of thumbstacking, leaving it oddly sensitive...

And Keenan- no more pointless than most of the other threads around here! 99% of the time they could've been answered with a simple forum or Google search. At least this one's original!

And if you really feel that way about this thread, does that make you pointless for responding to it :) ? There was a disclaimer BTW!

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By camhead
From Vandalia, Appalachia
Nov 1, 2012
You stay away from mah pig!
I have no idea what the difference is, but I'm pretty sure I know how to do both...

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By Nick Stayner
From Billings, MT
Nov 1, 2012
Nick Stayner near the crux. Ryan Minton photo.
camhead wrote:
I have no idea what the difference is, but I'm pretty sure I know how to do both...


...and that they are both quite hard.

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By claramie
From Boulder, CO
Nov 1, 2012
Should I be trying this hard on a warmup? <br /> <br />photo by Rob Kepley
I don't think it's a dumb question. Having climbed over 120 days in the creek, I've had this discussion with a lot of people. One thing is for certain, there is a different technique for .5 camalot vs .75 camalot (or equivalent sizes for those with other sized hands). Others may disagree but here's my take on it.

finger stack v ring lock
finger stack v ring lock


In a finger stack (.75 camalot for me) I use the thumb on the lip of the crack as a chock to make the crack smaller. The rest of the fingers jam between the rock on one side and the cuticle on the thumb on the other side. Like a hand stack or a hand/fast stack. You are actually stacking skin on skin to make the crack smaller. If you do it right, you will pull back the cuticle on the thumb a bit and your thumb could go numb if there's a ton of .75 on a climb. It's really hard to do this on flaring cracks and offsets. A ton of creek 12- routes have finger stacking on them.

In a ring lock (.5 camalot / grey or red alien for me / orange metolius) there is no stacking of finger on finger. It's really just a finger lock but you also put the tip of your thumb in there (inverted compared to the rest of the fingers). Adding in the thumb (vs plain old finger lock) allows you to get more opposition force and use that thumb muscle instead of relying fully on the fingers.

On rock lobster, the crux is .5s. I'm ring-locking for that section. There are one or two stacks right before the ringlocks.

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By bearbreeder
Nov 1, 2012
were not arguing about the need for technique ... but what people want to call it ... and that doesnt really matter one bit ;)

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By Tyler Tworek
From Eau Claire, WI
Nov 13, 2012
The longest route at "popeye" When you arrive at the crag, follow the most obvious dihedral crack up to a large ledge. Then continue up the side pull crack as seen in the photo to the anchors.
Keenan Waeschle wrote:
I'm going to replace my hands with .75's and never have to worry about this differentiation again.


Interesting thought for handicapable climbers.
Just need to find a way to wire those nerves into the cam triggers, and then be able to switch out whatever cam sizes you need for the climb.

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By john strand
From southern colo
Nov 13, 2012
A ring lock is when your wedding band jams... a finger stack is called 'scarpelli tips"

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By Princess Mia
From Vail
Nov 13, 2012
Chillin' at City of Rocks
And I really like the karate chop..... Which is neither...but it works for me
:-)

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By john strand
From southern colo
Nov 13, 2012
Werner Braun- " it's not rocket science, it's crack climbing. Put your hand or fingers in, twist and pull"

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